Friday 18 August 2017

The Real Mai Tai of Honolulu, Hawaii

On this 2014 trip I travelled courtesy of Hawaii Tourism, the Oahu Visitors Bureau, and the Outrigger Waikiki.

The evening after I changed Honolulu hotels, moving into a room at the Outrigger Waikiki, I decided to go for a walk through the adjacent resorts.

As I was researching Honolulu bars for an article, I was aiming to enjoy an authentic Mai Tai at the aptly-named Mai Tai Bar at The Royal Hawaiian.

But by night it's easy to take a wrong turn and end up at somewhere quite different.

So when I finally found the bar I thought I was looking for, it turned out to be somewhere else altogether: the Rum Fire bar at the Sheraton Waikiki.

Oh well, that's a mistake anyone could make. And the Rum Fire was a fun place to hang out, with cool red and black decor and a lively crowd on that warm evening.

And though it was the wrong bar, I did get to enjoy an authentic Mai Tai; in fact, far more authentic than the sweet concoctions that usually go by that name.

Barman Joe, who was born in the Philippines and had lived in Hawaii from age 7, happily made up an off-menu version of the Mai Tai, which I jotted down thus in my notes:
1944 Mai Tai
Lime juice
Orgeat / Rock candy syrup
Triple sec
Meyers rum
Parrot Bay rum
Not sure about the amounts of each, but Joe said this was basically the original 1944 Trader Vic's Mai Tai. I liked it a lot - it seemed much less sweet than other versions I'd sampled, especially since the only juice in it was lime.

This Mai Tai tasted like a real cocktail, not sweet alcoholic fruit juice. What a revelation. I knew Trader Vic was tougher than that.

I had to ask for it - and it cost US$18 - but it was well worth it. Though it spoiled me permanently for any other Mai Tai. Thanks Joe.

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